House Cawdor is one of the six Hive City Houses of Necromunda, making it one of the six original playable factions for the game when it was debuted.
Heavily masked and with a fire motif, House Cawdor has been converted as a whole to the Redemptionist creed of the Imperial Cult. This gives them unique cultural traits, such as always wearing ornate and often hideous masks, and a love of fiery weaponry. It's also made them perhaps the most despised House in Necromunda; even House Delaque is probably more popular than House Cawdor is. Sure, House Delaque is a bunch of backstabbing spies, but at least they're not arrogant killjoys like House Cawdor. The House of Redemption, as it's known, is so suspected of fostering Redemptionist Cult outlaws that bedevil the holdings of the other Houses that it's doubtful that anyone would even care too much if it were confirmed.
In the 8th edition relaunch, the distinction between House Cawdor and the Redemption has been largely ignored to the point that there is very little separation between the two groups. While the Redemption did flare up in the history of Necromunda and caused a significant amount of damage to industrial infrastructure, Cawdor is now wholly and completely the Clan House of the unwashed masses who live in religious poverty and cobble together what arms they can. Therefore it would make little sense for Redemptionist Gangs to exist separately as they once did in the previous edition as House Cawdor fills that role perfectly.
House Cawdor's main role in the hive is to scavenge and reclaim any kind of reusable material- the very act of recycling is a miracle in their eyes, and what most people would consider to be worthless garbage they frequently perceive as relics. This is reflected in their new aesthetic of "religious fanatic crossed with dumpster diver". What they lack in wealth and quality they make up for in sheer numbers; they easily outnumber several of the other Clan Houses combined. If you think in terms of population for a Hive Planet overall, and consider that the industries of the other Clan Houses have their own workforces, House Cawdor must account for an enormous fraction of the population who live in absolute squalor and are not generally being economically productive in the same way as the miners of House Orlock or the foundries of House Goliath. Yet as Imperial Citizens associated with a recognised Clan House, they are still not at the bottom of the heap because they exist above the outcasts, mutants, and native populations who live in the Underhives.
The reason for wearing the masks is rooted in their faith in the Redemptionist Creed: to demonstrate too much individuality would itself be a sin. One of their notable "weapons" is a refurbished autogun mounted on an improvised polearm as a kind of cargo-cult imitation of the Guardian Spears of the Adeptus Custodes, who they have vague legends of being the holiest of the Emperor's servants.
Their relation with the Imperial House is strained at best, as the Thane of Cawdor believes himself to be the foremost servant of the Emperor on Necromunda (ignoring any actual Ecclesiarchy presence) and acknowledges Planetary Governor Helmawr as a peer at best.
At the Right Hand of the Thane of Cawdor are a select group of individuals who enforce his will, and by extension the will of the Redemption.
Even though House Cawdor always wear masks, the actual identities of the Executioners are a closely kept secret, known only by the Thane himself. These Executioners are therefore only known by their means of punishment, such as the Hangman, the Scourge, the Immolator, or the Headsman.
The Executioners freely travel between territories and gangs belonging to House Cawdor, and their arrival acts as its own test of devotion. For as much as they mete out their own brand of punishment to the enemy and unbeliever, the gangs must fight all the harder to ensure they do not fall short of the requirements of the Redemptionist creed and end up becoming executed themselves!
- – Proving that masked mutants existed even in M3
There is an oddity in House Cawdor; despite the Redemptionist Creed espousing that mutation is a sin, punishable by death, there to seem to be exceptions.
In a heavily polluted and irradiated environments, with a lack of proper nutrition and medical access; people born with deviations are remarkably common. For some reason or another, these individuals are permitted to live and thrive within the house, despite expectations to the contrary.
There is no actual method or rule as to what is considered acceptable either: Some people might be born with a gimpy leg, or an extra finger. Others might be born with dwarfism, or gigantism and clearly be different from others but do not necessarily always fall under the expected remit of "Mutant". But in cases some other acceptable individuals might indeed be true 40k mutants. It all depends on what the leaders say, and so if someone higher up in the holy chain of command says so, then you have to go with it regardless of your own interpretation of the creed.
These more extreme misfits are called "Stigs" (never mutants, lest it spark a riot) and usually come in pairs in order to overcome their particular deficiencies, such as smart with stupid, or tall with small. They are equivalent to the "Brutes" of other Houses and are often being made to lug around the heaviest equipment, or used as expendable battering rams since nobody really cares what will happen to them.
At some point, House Helmawr thought that Necromunda didn't have enough native birdlife that wouldn't peck your face off. So figured it would be a great idea to commission a flock of servitors to invoke the sense of long lost nature.
Sheen Birds are the creations of the Adeptus Mechanicus and are effectively psyber-ravens. Designed to mimic natural behaviour by flocking, roosting, feeding, and even tending to artificial nests complete with fake chicks.
The fad eventually passed, but the Sheen Birds remained, continuing to do what they were made to do, but missing out on essential maintenance and repair. Now they exist as mangy taxidermy birds, stitched together with much of the flesh has decayed off of their metallic bones. Centuries of neglect has also rendered their programming corrupted, so they behave in unpredictable ways.
They are disgusting things, fallen things of beauty that are now full of disease and creepy behaviour. Perfect for the recyclers of House Cawdor, who have probably got no idea what they were supposed to be or where they came from, and now consider them to be avatars of the Emperor's Grace.
They are notoriously difficult to control, just as likely to charge an enemy as they are to ignore commands and sit around and do nothing. Their primary purpose is as a status symbol, as members of House Cawdor who possess one are said to have the blessing of the Emperor himself.
House Cawdor gangs are the fiercest of the House Gangs, being the only gang where every member can learn Ferocity skills - even heavies. They are also the only House Gang (besides House Goliath) where somebody other than a heavy can learn Muscle skills, albeit that honor is restricted to Cawdor gang leaders. In exchange, they have absolutely no capacity for Stealth and the weapons available to them are about as effective as you'd think a bunch of cobbled-together scraps and discarded weaponry would be. They're also one of only two gangs outside of House Escher where somebody other than a gang leader can learn Agility skills.
|Playable Factions of Necromunda|
|Clan Houses:||Cawdor - Delaque - Escher - Goliath - Orlock - Van Saar|
|Noble Houses:||Catallus - Greim - Ran Lo - Ulanti - Syprers|
|Others:||Corpse Grinder Cults - Cult of the Redemption - Palanite Enforcers - Ratskins - Scavvies|